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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: 29 May 2018
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis from the Publisher:

“A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.”

My Thoughts: If Caraval was good, Legendary is even better. Some of this is due to the fact that we have experience with Caraval. We know that not everything is as it seems, and that includes the roles people have. We have fallen under the spell of the magic and myth. We know the Dragna sisters, empathize with them, and want them to find happiness after the horrors of life with their fathers. The sequel takes some unusual turns though which turns it into a very different story from the first and makes it a much stronger novel overall.

While Caraval is all about Scarlett’s search for her sister, Legendary follows Tella as she attempts to uncover one of the greatest mysteries of Caraval as well as the unsolved mystery of her mother’s disappearance. Scarlett is nothing but a minor character this go-round, and that is a good thing. Even though she is the younger of the two and somewhat sheltered by her older sister, Tella is the stronger of the two sisters. She is more aware of reality and subsequently less prone to fantasy. She is pragmatic, self-aware, independent, and highly determined. She is also gutsy, willing to solve problems and take risks to achieve her goals. You can’t help but admire her for all of this.

The game this time around is also more interesting in my mind. No longer limited to a house but to an entire city, the possible clues are more difficult to find. At the same time, the stakes are higher given the bargain Tella makes and the repercussions should she fail. The game is no longer about one of the sisters either, for the truth behind the games will change the world should certain things come to pass. Everything is just a bit bigger about Legendary, which makes it a fitting title for the sequel.

Legendary is the type of novel where I lost complete lack of time and reality while reading. I became so immersed into Tella’s story and the world of Caraval that I literally neglected everything to read it. I fell in love alongside Tella, felt her pain and frustration, and celebrated her wins. I went into mourning when I finished it because I knew it would be months before I get to experience Tella’s world again. I want to go back and read the first novel again. I never want to leave this world of magic and legends. This feeling is why I read. Now, if only every book I read makes me feel this way.

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